I loved this book. it was beautiful. it was heartbreaking. it was tender.
I loved the development and growth of each of the main characters and the brief background we got on the prior generations.
This book does a great job illustrating that even in the far north, Black folks weren't safe no matter how it was painted in the media.
I think i cried quite a few times while reading this and I now want to read her other books
I'm really glad I finally got to read this one! I had attempted to read this so many times in the past, and I realized I had to be in a certain mood to read this one.
It was a little slow to start, but then I couldn't stop reading. A haunting and heartbreaking read for fans of Jaqueline Woodson.
What a thought provoking story. 1957, small village of Salt Point, Maine, the Kindred sisters, Ezra and CInthy. young black girls in a mostly white community. Racism, violence, family and friendship. This one stayed with me long after the last page.
The people of Salt Point could indeed be fearful about the world beyond themselves; most of them would be born and die without ever having gone more than twenty or thirty miles from houses that were crammed with generations of their families. . . . But something was shifting at the end of summer 1957.
The Kindred sisters—Ezra and Cinthy—have grown up with an abundance of love. Love from their parents, who let them believe that the stories they tell on stars can come true. Love from their neighbors, the Junketts, the only other Black family in town, whose home is filled with spice-rubbed ribs and ground-shaking hugs. And love for their adopted hometown of Salt Point, a beautiful Maine village perched high up on coastal bluffs.
But as the girls hit adolescence, their white neighbors, including Ezra’s best friend, Ruby, start to see their maturing bodies and minds in a different way. And as the news from distant parts of the country fills with calls for freedom, equality, and justice for Black Americans, the white villagers of Salt Point begin to view the Kindreds and the Junketts as threats to their way of life. Amid escalating violence, prejudice, and fear, bold Ezra and watchful Cinthy must reach deep inside the wells of love they’ve built to commit great acts of heroism and grace on the path to survival.
In luminous, richly descriptive writing, Promise celebrates one family’s story of resistance. It’s a book that will break your heart—and then rebuild it with courage, hope, and love.
One of the best books of the year. It is a feast to be savored.
A beautifully told family saga that examines the ties that bind us to the places from which we came. Heartbreaking, raw, and real, yet beautiful in its tragedy. I'm stingy with five stars, but this story earned it and will stay with me for a while.
2 Black families endure horrific racism in a small northern New England town in the 1950's. The story starts as 3 pre-pubescent/early teen girls, 2 black, 1 while, who discover their bodies to be physically similar, but find radical differences in how they are viewed and treated over the ensuing years by the otherwise all white community. Unthinkable indignities, violence and shameful behavior toward these 2 black families will leave readers with a small peak into the realities of racism.
A story that seemed real, as you read it. Drawn into the story, I learned as it developed.
This was a difficult but very important read, especially in light of the push to rewrite history. Understanding discrimination from the POV of a main character helps create empathy and hopefully brings about change. I selected this book based solely on the cover and actually assumed it was YA. I went into completely blind. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the story and the writing. This book is perfect for those that seek to understand the existence and oppression of blackness.
Rather than a straight A to B narrative, Promise is a novel that spends a lot of time developing complex characters and relationships and sets their stories against the backdrop of the burgeoning civil rights movement of the 1950's and 1960's. Much historical fiction set in this time period and featuring Black characters is set in the deep south, but Rachel Eliza Griffiths starts this novel in New England, giving a perspective a lot of us New Englanders might find uncomfortable. Mirrors can be upsetting when they don't reflect what you want to see...
Promise is upsetting but nuanced, it's a challenging read but also a nourishing one. It's hard to stick the novel into any one category, which I think makes it a great pick for book groups.
A searing account of how racism reaches its long arm into all corners of American life, Griffiths’ first novel also honors the love cradled within Black families and how it grants them inner strength and the power of defiance. Promise opens with glorious scenes of a late summer idyll in coastal New England in 1957. It’s the day before school begins in Salt Point, Maine, and Hyacinth “Cinthy” Kindred and her sister Ezra, thirteen and fifteen, are becoming young women, which their devoted parents, Heron and Lena, realize will make the world look at them differently. Ezra’s best friend Ruby Scaggs, a poor white neighbor whose father beats her, refuses to acknowledge their differences, but Ezra knows their closeness will soon run its course. The world is too much with them.
Within a week, life turns threatening. Cinthy’s favorite teacher commits suicide and is replaced by a snooty bigot. Ruby makes an unforgiveable mistake. The Kindreds’ good friends, the Junketts – the only other Black family nearby – are terrorized by a white police deputy. President Eisenhower has just signed the Civil Rights Act, and repercussions bubble forth. Realizing he can no longer shelter his daughters as he’d prefer, Heron reveals the personal and ancestral tragedies that spurred his move from Delaware to the isolated north, a supposedly safer place. Cinthy and Ezra must decide how to react to it all.
Promise holds nothing back in terms of circumstance, language, and emotion, creating a hard-hitting read that compels with its fully fleshed-out characters: Black and white, old and young. Griffiths’ background as a multi-published poet shows in many quote-worthy lines (“To claim herself was the sweetest and most dangerous theft”), and the ending, full of sadness and triumph, sings like an invocation. An assured debut about generational trauma, finding home, and the importance of nourishing joy.
The Promise is a story of two sisters growing up in the 1950’s. They are one of two Black families living in this town. In some ways it is very difficult to read; the way the town treated these families. The racism shown in this book is very heartbreaking. One mostly hears about things happening in the south but this took place in Maine. This is a well written book showing the effects of discrimination on two families. Definitely a worthwhile read.
It has been a very long time since a book affected me so much as Rachel Eliza Griffith’s debut novel, PROMISE. Thirteen-year-old Cinthy is our narrator. She reminded me several times of Harper Lee’s Scout. At times, I could not turn the pages fast enough, and other times, I had to put the book down for awhile before continuing. The story starts in 1957 in the small community of Salt Pointe, Maine. The Kindred family and another Black family, the Junketts live on the outskirts of town. Mr. Kindred has been hired to teach at the school and Mr Junkett is the custodian. All is not as it seems on the surface. The book tugged at every emotion I could have. What I do know is that this is a book I will read again. I also think it is a book that I can’t wait to have my book club read! My thanks to Random House and NetGalley for an ARC of this book. The opinions in this review are my own.
Rachel Eliza Griffiths apparently is a published poet and you can see her writing talent and word-smithing skill in her new novel Promise. Promise is a story of racial injustice in Maine of the 1950's. It's refreshing to have the tale told in a space other than the the Deep South. There are times that the cruelty and racism are so difficult to stand but that's a compliment for this story.. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest opinion. Promise is available now.
This is one of those books that I can't say I really enjoyed but it was important. The racism depicted is horrific and heartbreaking. I had to keep reminding myself that this was Maine and that these types of acts did not only occur in the south. Cinthy and Ezra are young teens in 1957 and civil rights are heating up. There is one other black family in town, the Abbots, and the fathers try to keep their heads down in order to protect their families but the town is now looking at them as a threat to their way of life. Ezra's best friend, Ruby, who is a mixed up mess. She was really a sad and pathetic character. When a new teacher comes to the school bad things start to happen leading to a terrible end.
I thought the characters were well developed. Cinthy is the younger and is very close to her sister but Ezra wants to go out and make things right where Cinthy is more of an observer. Their mom, Jolene, was a mystery to me. I wish I understood her a little more. At the end there were questions I felt went unanswered but all in all I would recommend Promise to others.
Thank you to Netgalley and Random House for providing me a digital copy.
This was a beautiful written debut, I enjoyed reading it, and at times I cried over it. I can only say I still can’t believe that we are still fighting this issue today. I believe everybody should read this story, so I recommend it to anybody and everybody .
I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley. This is my honest and voluntary review.
Stunning and heartbreaking. It is beautifully written and thought provoking.
Many thanks to Random House and to Netgalley for providing me with a galley in exchange for my honest opinion.
While poetic in its writing style, I could not get into the narrative of this story, and ended up not finishing it.
Poet Rachel Eliza Griffiths’ Promise is a stunning debut novel set in rural Maine during the early Civil Rights Movement (1957). Cinthy Kindred, the younger daughter of one of two black families in small-town Salt Point, narrates the story, starting with the first day of a new school year. Readers quickly learn that Cinthy’s father is the only black teacher in a small, mostly white school outside of town where the other black father, Caesar Junkett, is custodian. In addition to filling in general background, the chapter includes an attention-grabbing incident involving Cinthy, 15-year-old sister Ezra, and Ezra’s best friend Ruby, a white girl from a poor family. As the incident plays out, readers realize this friendship will soon end.
With such news as the integration of Central High School in Little Rock and President Eisenhower’s signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1957, racial tensions were increasing not only throughout the South, but also as far north as Maine. With an unexpected personnel change in the school, difficulties between the Kindred girls and Ezra’s friend Ruby, and problems with a bigoted local deputy, the once happy lives of the close-knit Kindred and Junkett families gradually become tense and even tenuous.
Add to that the history that led to the Kindred parents’ move from the South to Maine, and Griffiths creates a complex story that kept me turning pages and reading well into the night. As the plot moves forward, it also moves backward as the author fills the backstories of Kindred family ancestors as well as that of Ruby’s abusive father. Clearly marked to avoid any possible confusion, these breaks in the forward movement shed light on the characters, influence the action, and lead to a strong ending.
Filled with brutality and tragedy, Promise is also filled with love, hope, determination, and fortitude. It’s a story well worth reading. I will watch for more from Rachel Eliza Griffiths.
Thanks to NetGalley and Random House for an advance reader copy.
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Well written novel that details late 1950s America in a small town in Maine. Two black sisters and their families encounter all kinds of rejection from the town. However, they find love and support within each other. Interesting to see how life in the north could be just as bad for a black family. Good book. Thanks to Net Galley for the Arc!
This was SO well written! We don’t often see how the North is just as ruthless toward Black people as the South. This glimpse of life in Maine, where it’s supposedly more safe, was eye opening and frequently terrifying, and often deeply sad. Contrasting the experience of even a poor white girl with her Black friends, shows the deep roots of hatred that bear seeds even today. Loved it. Made me think, made me cry. Most highly recommend. A stunner.